Creating a character for a LARP event can be a daunting task. Many participants eventually come to love this process and see it as part of the enjoyment, but especially the first few times it can be intimidating. Fear not however, this guide and the Heimr community at large is here to help.
Keep it simple
The most helpful tip is to start of simple and keep it simple. Character complexity can come with time and tends to grow as the story grows. Experienced LARP participants might want to give themselves a bit more to work with but new participants tend to be overwhelmed with LARP in general and can help themselves by keeping at least their character background relatively simple.
Join a group.
A second very helpful tip is to try and join an existing group of participants and interweave your character with their group. A group often shares the same goal (but might have personal, possibly conflicting goals as well) and will instantly give your character friends and possible rivals or enemies to ground them into the setting. If you do join a group, let them help you with your background and ask them for help with your costume.
A character usually has 3 components that make up the bulk of the character description. If you would need to give a 1 line summary of your character it usually contains these 3 components.
The setting has 15 races. This usually determines a large part of their outward appearance and sometimes has far reaching biological implications. If you want to keep it simple, don't be afraid to pick Human. The 15 races are Human, Halfling, Gnome, Orc, Troll, Ogre, Elf, Fae, Shanata, Feyfolk, Nymph, Lizardmen, Merfolk, Slemmering, Tellurian.
The expertise and specialty of your character usually determines the rest of their outward appearance, the gear they carry, the social class they inhabit and might influence their outlook on life. Examples might be "Soldier", "Priest", "Mage", "Surgeon", "Trader", "Engineer", "Electrician", "Hacker", "Scientist", "Mercenary", "Artist" etc. A lot of characters tend to have a profession that supports them as a member of a spaceship crew or might have professions that cause them to travel from world to world, but not all characters need that.
This is the driving force behind your character. The reason they keep traveling with the fleet and thus to keep coming to the events that we organize despite the obvious danger. The setting we play in is dangerous in itself but you could still go years without any excitement. That is why the LARP events we organize focus on the dangerous and eventful parts of the setting. But your character needs a reason to be at the heart of the excitement. Otherwise they would be stupid to go there in the first place and completely mad to stay there after the first few signs of mortal danger. So you will need a good reason to stay and risk it all.
Why does your character travel with this fleet and is part of the ship that comes into direct contact with the different interstellar factions and strange alien worlds? Do they want to be the first to explore unknown worlds? Do they want to risk it all to become rich and powerful? Certainly a good possibility at the forfront of such a fleet. Are they searching for some ancient technique to learn and hope the unknown communities can help them? Do they represent some powerful political or social faction that orders them to spread their word and values?
Don't be afraid to also have some subgoals or secondary goals. Everybody has a hobby or vice to keep them occupied. Does your character want to convince everybody they talk to about some political or religious stance? Does your character like to gamble, dance, flirt or drink?
Combine your concept
Put these 3 components together and you have a character. "An Orc Mercenary in search of a mysterious artifact stolen from the family vault", "A Fae Mage in search of a mentor to teach them exotic magic", "A Merfolk Priest hoping to serve Januri, goddess of love in spreading their values throughout the galaxy." "A gnome trader trying to sell battle enchancing drugs to the interstellar communities."
After thinking of a concept you might want to pick some skills and buy some starting gear. The three gameplay steps to character creation are looking up the special rules for the race you picked, spending 20 points on skills and conditions and buying 500 copper of starting gear. For more details check out the rulebook.
Now that you have your concept and rules nailed down you can essentially start playing. LARP is improvised theater so don't be scared to make up details about your character their background and personality on the fly. However most players want to at least think about the details of their characters background before jumping into the game. If you are joining a group you might want to interweave your character with the group by thinking of relationships.
What sort of person is your character? You might want to think of some random traits for them. Also don't be afraid to give them bad or negative personality traits. Nobody is perfect. You might want to use popular personality model like The big five to map out your character their strengths and pitfalls in detail.
Most characters are not moral nihilists hellbent on walking over skulls and misery to fulfill their goals. If you really want to play such a character feel free, but it might be more interesting to have boundaries you character doesn't want to cross. Some characters draw the line at hurting children and torturing innocents to get what they want but have no trouble stealing and murdering. Other might be so virtuous as to feel bad even when they tell a white lie. It might also help to think about your characters conviction towards other people following these moral boundaries. How strongly does your character enforce these boundaries in their family members, close friends and loose acquaintances?
Apart from the characters of the other participants at the LARP it might also be a good idea to detail if your character has friends, family, kids, partners, contacts, employers, colleagues, employees, retainers, clients or mentors that are also traveling with the fleet. Usually not all of these relationships are universally good or pleasant. Equally important might be detailing enemies, rivals, debtors, and competitors that might cause trouble for your character in the future.
You can detail the relationships your character has left behind (those that weren't interested in joining the fleet). But the connection with these characters will probably fade the longer you play your character and the longer it will take for messages to arrive from these people that where left behind.
Habits and rituals
Your character is probably from a culture different then yours and might be interlinked with one or more subcultures as well. This probably infers their habits and rituals. How does your character greet people? What is their normal routine? Do they have certain ticks that others might find annoying, off-putting or even disgusting? Do they celebrate certain holidays?
Hobbies, likes and dislikes
Your character might have preferences when it comes to music, art, food, drink, culture, weather, climate, games, mates, stories, politics, religions, races, etc. Usually picking a handful of things your character really likes or dislikes will heighten the chance you run into one or more of these elements sparking an enthusiastic rant or two. But if you feel like it you can always jump in and determine on the spot that your character has a strong opinion about anything, positive or negative.
This is usually the events right before this event. It details why your character has decided to transfer to the ship that will make contact with the unknown factions and worlds and usually explains their goals.
Your characters history, where they come from, where they studied, past relationships/jobs, and how much they have seen from the galaxy is usually surprisingly irrelevant when compared to the above factors. Feel free to detail them, including where your character picked up their skills, gear and how this history has influenced the above factors, it might give you something to talk about when other topics are exhausted, but usually it has little influence on the game itself.